Realism and Structurism in Historical Theory: A Discussion of the Thought of Maurice Mandelbaum

History and Theory 28 (3):296-325 (1989)

The late Maurice Mandelbaum was one of the most consistent and determined defenders of philosophical and social realism and of what he called "methodological institutionalism." This can be seen as containing a theory of human agency and a theory of how the social world comes to be institutionally structured, or what can be called a "structurist" theory. Mandelbaurn has argued for the irreducibility of social concepts and the necessity of scientific social laws for social and historical explanation. Purpose and Necessity in Social Theory and the totality of Mandelbaum's work support the contention that in the task of developing substantive social explanations three basic issues are equally important: the problem of social reality and truth, the problem of social causation, and the problem of social change. Mandelbaum's concepts of behavior and institutions - their relative autonomy, symbiosis, and historicity -together provide the basis for a sociological structurism. Moreover, he provides powerful philosophical support from within the analytical tradition for a social theory that rejects atomism and empiricism and embraces the historical nature of society as both a real structure and an ongoing structuring process
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DOI 10.2307/2505181
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